Saturday, July 28, 2007

Where did all our knobs go?

The merits of an anolog knob ...

"This weekend our 5-year-old decided to eat a screw. That meant I got to catch up on my Golf Digest and Popular Mechanics reading while spending a Saturday in the waiting room of urgent care.

As such, I ran across this article in Popular Mechanics: Bring Back Our Knobs: Analog vs. Digital. (* warning…audio plays on page load)

In reading it, I’ve realized that this has been perhaps one of the biggest subliminal complaints I’ve had with devices in general over the years. Most everything today is button-centric. Buttons, buttons, buttons. My car stereo, my TV/DVD/Satellite box, my cell phone, even our oven. Interfaces have become increasingly more tedious to use and the lack of the good, ol analog knob is likely the biggest culprit.

The article mentions that one of the reasons people like the iPod is that Apple, rightfully so, embraced the analog knob. The scroll wheel is a classic bit of interface design that people just intuitively like.

To take it a step further, I finally got to play with an iPhone yesterday. The appeal of the phone is that even though it’s entirely digital, the interface is highly analog. You slide your fingers across the screen to physically move the interface.

This, of course, can’t translate directly to web sites, as web sites are rarely interacted with directly. You typically are using an intermediary device such as a mouse or keyboard which can make using direct analog interface more of a chore.

That said, as devices get smaller and more ‘touchable’ let’s hope that other’s catch on to Apple’s ability to understand the power of analog in a digital world."    (Continued via MNteractive)    [Usability Resources]

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